During March 5-9, 2018, approximately 45,000 attendees and over 1,300 leading healthcare vendors gathered in Las Vegas for the annual Healthcare Information & Management Systems Society (HiMSS) conference. The key conference theme of “embracing the power of innovation” was relevant to all the participants at the event. With hundreds of presenters and over 300 educational sessions, there were ample opportunities to understand how healthcare is being impacted by innovation.
The Power of Innovation
During the event, presenters frequently described how the healthcare industry was changing because of innovation and the arrival of new technologies. This trend was very apparent in the keynote delivered by Eric Schmidt, former executive chairman of Alphabet Inc. (parent company of Google). His talk, titled “Technology for a Healthier Future: Modernization, Machine Learning and Moonshots,” explained how the future of healthcare lies in killer apps, predictive analytics, machine learning, and the cloud. The large-scale presence of major Tech giants like Google, Amazon, Apple, Salesforce and Uber illustrated the power of innovation as well. Innovation has always been front and center at HiMSS and it is challenging to imagine companies that are more innovative than this list of players.
The Tech Giants’ exhibition booths brought a buzz to the event as well. There was an excitement in the air and people were really taking notice about what these companies had to offer. Attendees believed that the excitement was partially tied to expectations that these Tech giants can find ways to improve processes and performance. Improvement is certainly something that is always on the agenda at HiMSS and healthcare in general. However, not everyone believes that these new entrants will have the same disruptive effect that they have had in their own traditional sectors. Many attendees indicated they will take a wait-and-see approach as to how these innovators will impact the industry.
There was an overall sense that the large-scale presence of the tech giants surprised many people. The healthcare information technology industry is filled with numerous, highly qualified incumbent players; in today’s marketplace, successful organizations should not be taken by surprise. All organizations, especially market leaders, must be constantly on alert for the potential entrance of non-traditional players into their marketplaces, and not take it for granted that they already know everything about their marketplaces. There isn’t a single company that is guaranteed its market position and that is fully safe from disruption brought about by the arrival of new and unexpected competition.
If the Tech industry has taught the business world one clear lesson, it is to expect the unexpected. If those incumbents surprised by the entrance of Google and others had invested the time and energy into actively tracking their marketplaces, perhaps this surprise could have been avoided. A properly constructed CI monitoring program could have provided early warning signals, allowing incumbents to prepare for the arrival of new entrants.